You may have seen this man working around Fairfield over the last few weeks. He is Lee Elwood, Hislop’s new working manager in charge of maintaining the grounds around Fairfield Park. We caught up with him to chat about how he came to be here and his first impressions of Fairfield.
Lee lives in Leighton Buzzard with his wife Jen and four children. He left school at 16 to begin his career in garden maintenance and care, working in the grounds of Harrow School while he attended college to learn the theory of looking after green landscapes.
His journey later took him to Legoland Windsor, where he learned the art of topiary (wouldn’t it be wonderful if he were to practise that here – perhaps a peacock to replace the now-departed Lower Wilbury Farm peacock?) and on to a large landscape construction company that carries out big commercial and private estate projects. It was here that Lee worked his way up into a management position, gaining a wealth of experience in estate management whilst maintaining his hands-on involvement.
Looking for a change of scene, Lee floated his CV to various local horticultural companies. It landed on the desk of Hislop’s and James recognised the name of his old mentor. That’s right – some years ago, the now high-flying James Hislop had been Lee’s apprentice! The interview was nothing more than a formality. Lee was appointed on the spot and joined us at Fairfield in May.
Lee and his team work hands-on in Fairfield three days a week; the other two days Lee spends in the office – attending meetings, planning, organising and coordinating. The other team members are apprentice Harry and labourer Luke, and during the summer Lee’s son is also joining him to learn the finer points of mowing and strimming!
When asked what he thought of Fairfield, Lee said he loves the beautiful surroundings – such a huge improvement, he said, on working in London. He also had nothing but praise for the residents, who he said are always friendly and interested. He has even been offered cups of tea! Any complaints? He had to think hard about this, but did say dog poo bags in the general waste bins were very unpleasant, as he has to sort the waste back at the yard. There are a lot of dedicated dog waste bins in Fairfield, so there’s no excuse, really.
The ground maintenance contract was initially placed with Hislop & Co Horticulture for one year starting on 31 August 2018. A further contract has now been placed until 31 August 2020, so we are likely to be seeing Lee around the Park for some time to come.